Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson compared the Islamic State terrorist group to American patriots willing to die for freedom.

Carson praised Americans who are willing to die for their beliefs at the Republican National Committee's winter meeting outside San Diego Thursday.

Carson then mentions ISIS.

"They got the wrong philosophy, but they're willing to die for what they believe, while we are busily giving away every belief and every value for the sake of political correctness," he said as Republican officials from across the country interrupted him with applause. "We have to change that."

Commonly known as ISIS, the Islamic State group has been responsible for hundreds of deaths across the Middle East in recent months. Islamic State militants claimed responsibility for recent beheadings of Western journalists and aid workers. One of the suspects in the recent Paris terror attacks claimed allegiance to the Islamic State group.

Carson defended his comments saying it is "ridiculous" to say he was comparing American patriots to the Islamic State.

Carson has drawn criticism for other comparisons. In his speech Thursday, he dismissed such reaction as politically motivated attacks by opponents. He also referred to recent accusations that he had plagiarized sections of a book, telling Republicans that he had "missed a couple" of citations and taking full responsibility for that.

Last spring Carson called the scandal over patient care at veterans hospitals "a gift from God to show us what happens when you take layers and layers of bureaucracy and place them between the patients and the health care provider." In 2013 he called the Affordable Care Act "the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery," adding that "it is slavery in a way because it is making all of us subservient to the government."

Carson is still very much an underdog in the Republican field. He is considered the only high-profile African-American considering a White House run.

He said Thursday that he wasn't in a rush to announce his 2016 plans.

"I don't see the urgency," he said. "Let everybody else get in if they feel urgent, but I would have a tendency to do things the way they feel right to me."

The Associated Press contributed to this report